Eldfell - Walk around the Volcano

Eldfell - Walk around the Volcano

Duration: 2 hours. Difficulty: this is a fairly easy walk, apart from the hike up Eldfell, which takes a bit of effort. In high winds, it’s not advisable to climb the crater. Interest: history, geology, views. Start/End: the ferry terminal on Heimaey.

From the ferry terminal make your way along the quayside in an easterly direction (as if you were going back out to see the same way you came in), following signs to Skansinn. Here you will find the oldest building on the island, the former maternity hospital, and the remains of a 16th-century fort erected by the Danish to protect the island’s trading post against foreign merchants, especially the English! The beautiful stave church was given to the Islanders by the Norwegians.

It is worth continuing out along the coast for a short way for a view of the bird cliffs. Now backtrack to Skansinn and walk up to and cross the road. Continue over the lava on a footpath to the Eldheimar Exhibition. You are crossing the lava that erupted in 1973, engulfing many of the town’s houses. At Eldheimar, you can see some of the houses have been excavated from the ash that rained down on them during the early stages of the 1973 eruption. Now make your way to the road directly above the exhibition and bear right, taking this road to the next junction. Turn left here along another road, heading between the two craters Eldfell and Helgafell. At the next junction turn left towards Eldfell. Almost immediately, take the track off to the right.

Eldfell volcano is on your left now. Continue along this track and shortly the sea comes into view. Descend sharply to the edge of the lava flow where you will find Paskahellir (Easter Caves), a lava tube. After looking at the caves, backtrack a few yards to the edge of the lava at foot of the volcano and make your way anticlockwise around its base. The path eventually meets a track, taking you to a large wooden cross, inside the crater base.

Now you have the chance to climb the crater Eldfell – it’ll take you about 20 minutes to get to the summit of the crater, which formed during the 1973 eruption. On the summit, the ground is still steaming and warm and there are fantastic views of the island and back towards the mainland. From the summit, backtrack along the ridge then instead of bearing right for your descent, continue straight on down the ridge to an information panel and car park. From here make your way back into town.